I have visited a number of excellent rugby grounds over the years to watch football matches. Places like Barrow Raiders, Batley, Ealing Trailfinders, Exeter Chiefs, Hull Kingston Rovers, Hunslet, Keighley, Leigh, St Helens, Salford, Wakefield Trinity, Warrington, Widnes and several Welsh venues have been a pleasure to call in on for soccer action. So when I saw that Wakefield AFC are now playing at Featherstone Rovers Rugby League Club, I decided to make a 340 mile round trip.
All pub quiz enthusiasts will know that Wakefield is the biggest city in the country without a professional football club. The local population is more than 99,000 with a grand total of 348,000 people living within the Wakefield district borough. However, several Non-League teams have failed to generate any interest in the city in the past and have folded due to financial problems. But the current Wakefield AFC were formed in 2019 by a consortium of ambitious businessmen and their website says they are aiming for Football League status by 2033.
They will need to win seven promotions as they play at Step 7 of the national Non-League Pyramid in the Sheffield & Hallamshire County Senior League. The current groundshare at Featherstone is eight miles away from their roots, but a new £12 million stadium is planned in Wakefield itself plus a state of the art training facility.
These exciting developments should provide the vital income steams necessary for Wakefield AFC to prosper in the future. Research has shown that more young people play football than any other sport in the area so there is definitely a thriving community platform to build on.
Where was it played?
The Millennium Stadium sits in the centre of Featherstone and really is a charismatic venue. There are plenty of seats with two of the grandstands having been transported from Scarborough FC’s old McCain Stadium by Featherstone Rovers fans and volunteers. I loved the old-school curvature of the terracing plus the ancient white pitch-side railings. Another lovely feature is that large newspaper cuttings are on display on the back fencing which celebrate famous rugby matches played by Featherstone in the past.
What’s in the programme?
There weren’t any programmes for this game but up to date teamsheets were readily available from the club’s helpful media staff.
And the match itself?
Hallam edged a pulsating five goal thriller which ebbed one way and flowed the other. Jake Morrison (11 minutes) and Jed Wilkinson (38 mins) were on target for Wakefield. But the visitors twice came from behind to seal victory through strikes by Adam Baskerville (28 mins), and Kieran Watson (45 mins, 85 mins penalty).
Facts and figures
Score: Wakefield 2 Hallam 3
Where: Featherstone Rovers Rugby Club, Millennium Stadium, Post Office Road, Featherstone, West Yorkshire, WF7 5EN
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